Wednesday, 28 April 2010

When in April the Showers Sweet.

Back to Westminster Abbey for another RSC collaboration with the focus this time on Henry IV. Of all the history plays I think of them as the most accomplished - mixing perfectly the sociology of power as with the personal drama of a father son relationship. I've not come across writing that so perfectly captures the bitter sweet rejection of youth or the assumption of responsibility and adulthood as Shakespeare manages to in his evolution of Henry's son, Prince Hal.

Tonight's play though began appropriately enough with Chaucer, who was present at the court of Richard II and may well have known Henry as, the then King's cousin, Bolingbroke. In fact the claim was made that Bolingbroke was the model for Chaucer's knight in The Canterbury Tales. Again I found myself in Poet's Corner - which itself formed around Chaucer's grave - and found the combination of poetry and place both moving and memirising.

The evening ended with the audience following Clive Wood, playing Henry, as he was helped up the nave towards the Jerusalem Chamber, where in 1413 the real King died - fulfilling an ancient prophecy that he would die in Jerusalem. A cantor sang and the old King slipped out of sight watched by his son. The ghosts were everywhere.

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